Rail passes, credit and changing your cash


More credit queries

I notice lately you’ve had a lot of queries regarding credit cards in Japan. One question I’m curious about is — why?

I have a U.K. based credit card but am not sure if it’s worth signing up for a Japan credit card just yet.

Are there many shops that demand Japan-only Visa/Mastercard cards like the rather backward domestic ATM network?

The reason we are getting a lot of notes it seems is that until recently it was nearly impossible for a non-Japanese to get a credit card, but that has changed a lot recently.

The advantage of a credit card in Japan is primarily that you can make payments on your card at any bank, while a foreign based credit card has to be sent overseas.

There is no discrimination in the use of foreign credit cards.

Have any of our other readers experienced other advantages of a Japan credit card?

Exchanging money

I was wondering where is the best place to exchange money? I usually exchange my money at the airport when going home the the U.S., but I always feel like I’m not getting the best exchange rate.

Do the banks or other places inside Tokyo offer better rates?

Most countries have a “bureau de change” system — in Japan they don’t.

There are a number of places to exchange, but generally they have pretty much the same rates.

The worst are the hotels — the best is most probably the post office, the larger branches of which will usually exchange most major currencies.

Do any of our readers know other good places to exchange money?

Japan railpass

Have friends visiting Japan? Have them get a “Japan Railpass,” which offers unlimited travel anywhere in Japan.

Although only for those visiting Japan, it’s a very, very good deal when traveling on the most expensive rail system in the world.

For more information, see www.gatewaylax.com/jrpass.asp


I want to do translation for media and news agencies.

Which are the agencies I should get in contact with or are there any employment agencies which register foreigners and dispatch them to where there is a need for them?

Try the Society of Writers, Editors and Translators (SWET) for starters. You can reach them at www.swet.jp

Another good idea is to join the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. You can get more information on eligibility and rates at www.fccj.or.jp or on (03) 3211-3161.

Power of attorney

I’ve been thinking seriously about making a will recently.

One other thing I’ve been considering is making a power of attorney. With no next of kin here, I’d like one in place that could take effect if my (final) illness left me without speech.

Is such a document (or its equivalent) available in Japan? And would the Mr. Watanabe you mentioned be able to take care of things?

Do call Mr. Watanabe at (03) 3222-5361 and he should be able to point you in the right direction.

Family space

Need a place for your family in Tokyo? Try The Tokyo American Club at (03) 3583-8381 and talk to Rupa.

For children to adults, there is always something to do — from bowling to the library to one of the only swimming pools in Tokyo that you can actually swim in without hitting someone on the way.